Strength in Numbers: Rallying Together on AB 262 of the Buy Clean Act

By Margaret Webb

The California Buy Clean Act, specifically AB 262, will require certain building materials, including flat glass, to report Global Warming Potential (GWP) for most state and construction infrastructure projects as defined by the bill. (See related article on page 6 of the March 2018 USGlass magazine.)

The Department of General Services (DGS) provided an External Stake-holder Outreach Event from June 26 to August 10, 2018. The event allowed affected and interested parties to submit comments on the legislation, which was enacted October 2017 to be implemented January 2019. While the implementation date for required EPDs has now been extended to January 2020, some of the necessary steps were not extended, which means EPDs will be requested beginning January 1, 2019. If the start date for requesting EPDs is extended to January 1, 2020, this would provide the much-needed time to develop an industry-wide EPD.

Rallying Together

As with the legislation proposed by North Carolina that would have limited low-E glass, this legislation has rallied the entire industry. IGMA, the American Architectural Manufacturers Association and the Primary Glass Manufacturers Product Forming Committee have all submitted public comments on behalf of their constituency.

Here are the main technical issues addressed by IGMA:

  • Industry baseline requirement;
  • Implementation timeline;
  • Facility-specific EPDs; and
  • Exclusion vs. preference.

Allowing an industry-wide EPD is appropriate, and better than having the DGS setting a baseline GWP for flat glass. This baseline would be based on only two EPDs, which is not appropriate given what is available to determine the baseline at this time. (A third EPD is listed, but it’s for fire-rated glass not flat glass, though the flat glass Product Category Rule (PCR) was its basis.)

Full Representation

There is no known correlation between these two flat glass EPDs and the industry. An industry-wide EPD would be production-weighted. It would be more representative and inclusive of the flat glass industry, while providing confidentiality to the flat glass producers. Taking a weighted average of two (or even three) EPDs is not representative of the industry, as it assumes that the facilities are the same size and have the same output and start-up/shut-down inefficiencies. One of the unintended consequences of using the GWP baseline could be a glass shortage for public work projects in California. The industry has recommended that the AB 262 legislation require an industry-wide EPD rather than setting a limit.

Another technical issue cited by the industry was the requirement for facility-specific EPDs. The “GANA PCR for Flat Glass: UN CPC 3711” does not ad-dress facility-specific EPDs. The existing EPDs are product-specific, so there are no governing rules to develop facility-specific EPDs. The industry is encouraging DGS to accept product-specific EPDs and to extend the timeline to allow the flat glass industry to develop an industry-wide EPD.

A Complex Supply Chain

Facility specific EPDs do not address the complexity of the glass sup-ply chain. The reality is that Window Manufacturer A could get flat glass from any number of different facilities for their finished insulating glass unit. Tracing the source(s) is not always simple.

As stated above, one unintended consequence could result in an in-sufficient supply of glass for public works projects in California. The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program offers incentives for those companies that are leaders in this field. The industry cited this approach and recommends preference be given to those flat glass manufacturers that meet or are better than the GWP baseline being established by DGS.

Jurisdictions usually reach out to industries affected by proposed legislation, but that wasn’t done in this instance. DGS has now provided this comment period, so hopefully this will ensure jurisdictions reach out in advance of future legislative proposals.

As with the North Carolina issue, the fenestration industry has come together as one voice. It’s encouraging to see this. There is strength in numbers and that makes it much more likely that our voices will be heard.

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